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The overwintering strategy of Antarctic krill under the pack-ice of the Weddell Sea

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Summary

Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba Dana) occurs in enormous swarms in Antarctic waters during the ice-free summer months. The winter whereabouts of this stock were hitherto unknown. Evidence collected during the Winter Weddell Sea Project 1986 (WWSP'86, G. Hempel 1988) covering a large area of the eastern and southern Weddell Sea indicates that the seasonal sea ice cover sustains the bulk of the krill population. Results presented here, show that known aspects of krill morphology and behavior are actually adaptations to the ice habitat, suggesting that the dominance of krill in the Antarctic marine ecosystem is a result of its capacity to grow and reproduce in the water column in summer, and find both food and shelter in the ice cover during the rest of the year. This conclusion has far-reaching implications for our understanding of Southern Ocean biology and ecology.

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Marschall, HP. The overwintering strategy of Antarctic krill under the pack-ice of the Weddell Sea. Polar Biol 9, 129–135 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00442041

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